by Steve Fair
Dank’s measure passed in the State House, but was amended in a Senate committee to simply raise the income level on the current program for seniors that qualifies them for a property tax freeze.
Dank says the measure was watered down in the Senate because the education lobby lied and told Senate committee members his resolution would cut school funding. “The head of the state school board association actually alleged on Tuesday that this would cut school funding,” Dank said. “That is simply a lie. This measure would not cut one penny from any school or county budget anywhere in the state. All it would do would be to give Oklahoma’s 600,000 seniors assurance that their property taxes would not increase while they struggle to remain solvent and in their homes.”
“This is in no way, shape or form a tax cut,” Dank said of the measure. “It is bogus to claim that it is. The people who claim to speak for schools ought to have more regard for the truth.”
Dank believes passage of HJR 1001 would make Oklahoma attractive to retirees by being fair to seniors. “Every senior who is forced out of his or her home by more and more bills from the taxman represents a dead loss to Oklahoma,” he said. “Doesn’t it make more sense to help them remain independent and in their homes as productive seniors than to drive them into nursing homes or assisted living centers because they can no longer afford the tax bill?”
Critics of Dank’s bill include those who say that seniors can better afford increases in property tax than their younger counterparts. They also contend Oklahoma’s property tax is already among the lowest in the country and that Dank’s proposal simply freezes assessment of property.
First, it might have been true in years past that seniors had more disposable income than the young, but that is not the case today. The golden years are not so golden for many seniors who are forced to sell their home because they can’t afford increases in property tax.
American is a graying society and policymakers are increasingly targeting senior citizens to protect government’s revenue stream. At least five of the twenty tax hikes associated with ObamaCare directly target seniors, including a tax on pacemakers, wheelchairs and other items primarily purchased by seniors.
Second, while it is true the devaluation of property has temporally impacted funding to schools; land is still a solid investment because it has a great track record of increasing in value over the long haul. According to smartcompany.com land and property are still viewed as a great investment by over 90% of Americans. Like Mark Twain said, “Buy land, they’re not making any more of it.”
Third, there is no evidence that passage of Dank’s proposal would cut funding to schools. There is a big difference between a cut and a freeze. Having your paycheck frozen is not the most pleasant thing in the world, but having it cut means you get less money. Only in government accounting is a freeze considered a cut.
If approved by the voters, the proposal would impact one in six Oklahomans who are seniors. Hopefully HJR 1001 will be restored to its orginal language and Oklahoma voters can decide in the arena of public opinion if they want to help seniors with their tax burden.